Darfur is finally bubbling back up into the view of the American media. Yesterday, the UN issued its first sanctions over attacks in Sudan's western region. Al Qaeda has named Darfur as a new battleground in its war against the West. The NATO meeting scheduled for Thursday has the "slow-moving genocide" on its agenda.
A major essay on Darfur appeared this fall in FIRST THINGS. Called "The Shame of Darfur," it was written by Allen Hertzke, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and author of Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights.
As concern about Darfur rises once again, Allen Hertzke e-mails today to add:
In the October issue of FIRST THINGS I challenged the evangelical community to take up the cause of Darfur with the same vigor it did genocide in southern Sudan. While evangelical activism on Darfur still has not been as robust, unified, or visible as with the southern campaign, developments in recent months suggest the cause is gaining traction among born-again leaders.
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals will speak at the April 30 Darfur rally in Washington, as will representatives of the Sudanese Council of Churches of the south. Charles Colson has issued two strong Breakpoint commentaries on Darfur, the most recent one on April 17 calling for listeners to contact their congressional representatives and the White House. Just this month editorials and appeals on Darfur have appeared in print or web publications of the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Samaritan's Purse continues to provide extensive relief in Darfur.
As I noted in FIRST THINGS, a number of reasons explain why the evangelical community had not initially been as visible on Darfur as the southern conflict. For some figures, like Gary Bauer, it seems as if the Christian dimension has influenced the response, as his "blitz" e-mails have yet to address Darfur even while he continues to speak of "two million Christians" killed by the Khartoum regime, thus inaccurately conflating all the diverse Africans in the south as Christians and turning that conflict into a purely Muslim-against-Christian war.
But the broader context of the debate about evangelical engagement on Darfur bears mentioning. If there had been no southern civil war that the evangelical community became so invested in, we likely would be speaking of the laudable extent to which notable conservative evangelical leaders have joined liberal Jews, black churches, and secular rights activists on Darfur.
In other words, it is the contrast with the campaign in the south that is so striking and makes evangelicals vulnerable to the charge that they care more about Christians in the south than Muslims in Darfur, a charge less and less credible for many evangelicals as time passes. And the unfairness of media treatment of the two conflicts is indeed galling: slight or patronizing coverage of how evangelicals championed the besieged people of southern Sudan compared with extensive and favorable coverage of the "Save Darfur" movement. What deserves recognition is that while grassroots evangelical mobilization can still be increased, there is now significant movement in the born-again camp.
In addition to which:
Rod Dreher's new book on "Crunchy Cons" has been receiving a good deal of attention. Gilbert Meilaender isn't buying. In an amusing sendup of the moral preening of the crunchy cons, Meilaender invokes the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton who observed that it is not familiarity but comparison that breeds contempt. Meilaender's is among the many lively arguments to be found in the May issue of FIRST THINGS. Isn't it time for you to subscribe to FIRST THINGS?
Herewith another evaluation of Catholic Matters:
"Neuhaus defends his vision of Christianity with wit and sure-handed confidence. I doubt whether many Catholics of the type he criticizes will be convinced, but he makes an erudite case for the old teachings, while humanizing them in the context of his own biography."
--Patrick Allitt in The New York Times Book Review